Thanks to Malcolm for his comment on yesterday's post where he reminded me that in John 3:17 Jesus was actually speaking to Nicodemus who was a Pharisee.
John 3:1-21 records Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus who came to him under the cover of night for fear of being discovered by other Pharisees (just like how some leaders from traditional churches attended NCC's midweek services incognito to listen to Pastor Prince's preaching) .
In John 7:32, we read that the Pharisee leaders and chief priests ordered the temple guards to arrest Jesus but they came back empty handed. The leaders asked them why and they answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46)
The leaders were of course very angry:
47 Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”
Like the temple guards, Nicodemus also must have been deeply impacted by Jesus' preaching for he tried to defend Jesus, saying “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
Did you notice that Nicodemus defended Jesus by asking a question? Remember Jesus as a 12-year-old asking questions at the temple? This shows that Nicodemus is actually a highly-learned Pharisee.
The leaders claimed that the crowd believed Jesus because they were uneducated and did not know the Law. However Nicodemus, in just one question, exposed their hypocrisy and contradiction. In essence, he was saying that the leaders who prided themselves in knowing the law were breaking the law themselves when they judged Jesus without hearing him and knowing what he was doing.
Do you see a pattern here? There are also many Pharisees ... i mean critics (some of whom are church leaders or claim to be theologically trained) who dismiss NCC's teachings i.e. Pastor's Prince's preaching as wrong or even heretical without really listening to the sermons.
Some even insinuate that the estimated 20,000 strong congregation are deceived by and blindly follow Pastor Prince without searching the scriptures for themselves, just as what the Pharisees insinuated in John 7:52, “Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
Is it true that the scriptures say that no prophet ever comes from Galilee?
Isaiah 9:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
1BUT [in the midst of judgment there is the promise and the certainty of the Lord's deliverance and] there shall be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time [the Lord] brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He will make it glorious, by the way of the Sea [of Galilee, the land] beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the Light shined.
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."